Painting Minis – D&D Wrath of Ashardalon #7 – Grells

Grell-sm 01 Grells…  Some weird abomination of a floating brain, an octopus, and a giant chicken (with some teeth, no less).  They cannot see, as they have no eyes, but they can sense creatures around them, and will ambush any prey with sealth and poisonous tentacles.  I’m not sure how they fit into Wrath of Ashardalon, but whatever…  time to get some paint on these bad boys.

Grell-sm 02

Side view of each grell. Click to enlarge.

Before I painted, though, I wanted some variation.  Using hot water to soften the tentacles, I repositioned some of them so each grell was unique.  This material likes to spring back into shape, even after reshaping, so it’s hard to do anything like this with bits that are thicker.  But the tentacles seemed to work out pretty well.

I used a light pink on the brain.  I know it’s fake-looking, compared to real brains.  But then again, to whose brains are we referring?  Perhaps the grell really does have pink brain matter.  But the shading threw me for a loop.  I attempted a purple wash by thinning paint with Futur floor polish, as recommended by many out there.  Unfortunately, that didn’t really work well.  It left an unsightly ring around each depression where pigment stuck to the edges.  This is likely due to surface tension.  I couldn’t figure it out, and so I painted over the brains again to cover up the ugly wash.  Instead of a wash, I decided to dry-brush highlights over the high spots, making the low points just a tad darker.  The contrast isn’t quite what I had hoped, but it’s sufficient, I think.

Grell-sm 03The beak was pretty straightforward.  Again, no wash here, since it went badly on the brain.  Just a plain yellow for the beak.  The tongue I painted a medium purple, and the inside of the mouth is a dark maroon.

The tentacles were kind of a pain.  It’s hard to really get inside and paint all areas, but I think I got pretty close.  While I was up in there, I hit the underside of the brain with gray for a bit of shadow.  (Not like anyone will look under there anyway…)  I finished the tentacles by painting the poisoned barb areas at the tips with purple.  I like the contrast with the lighter tan of the tentacles.

To top it off (base it off..?), I painted the base brown and added some tan sand to cover the ground area.  The base was a bit ugly all by itself.

The images in the 5e D&D Monster Manual for the grell are pretty plain, being mostly a pale pinkish color.  I wanted to add a little color to these creatures.  Overall, I’m pretty happy with how they turned out, although I’ll have to think about how to better utilize washes in the future.  Perhaps an ink would’ve been better?  Any advice from other painters out there?


2 thoughts on “Painting Minis – D&D Wrath of Ashardalon #7 – Grells

  1. They look great, although the pink and yellow colors might be a tad saturated. If you are looking into inexpensive ways to wash your miniatures, Vallejo’s Game Color Inks cost about $2~$2.50 a pop, and work really well when you have surfaces with deep creases like the brains on the Grell. The Sepia Ink, in particular, would probably look great on those tentacles.

    Citadel’s (aka Games Workshop) washes, while being a bit more expensive and not as concentrated as the aforementioned inks, also work quite well for this. Agrax Earthshade and Nuln Oil in particular are two lifesavers that I’m sure every miniatures painter would be glad to add to their collection: they are multi-purpose and very, very good washes (or shades, whatever you want to call them).

    For the brains in particular, I think a thin wash of Druchii Violet would do wonders to bring the saturation of the pink down a bit and shade the creases.


    • Funny you mention those Citadel washes, as I own both of them.

      They really work well for many minis, but I really struggled with the washes on the grells because the brain is smooth and rounded, rather than sharper detail. So the washes tended to wick up the sides of the crevasses and cause the rings of color.

      That’s okay, now I know and can try something different next time.


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